Meeting the grim reaper is most certainly not an experience of gloom and fear but rather one of unforgiving excitement, the kind we easily associate to the sounds of Mr. Noah. In a recent ‘walk-in-conversation’ between Sonic Boom (Peter Kamber) and Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) available on Animal Collective’s Youtube channel, Lennox does describe this encounter with the figure of death as a sort of eagerness towards the doomsday.
Whether it is by opening ‘Davy Jones’ Locker’ or by cruising the ‘Tropic of Cancer’, the album seems to be infused with this thing (an AC tradition in fact) of defying myths and folklore, bypassing conventional approaches through the infinite array of samples and sophisticated layers of effects that have long distinguished Panda Bear & Cia with infinite playfulness.
In fact, Lennox is inviting us to dance at all moments and greet death as an old friend with whom we could enjoy a cheerful walk in ‘Principe Real’ (a reference from the place Lennox has lived in the last 10 years, Lisbon), or any of the many landscapes that the album sketches for our ears delight. Whereas Tomboy’s melodies and lyrics touched a realm of almost naive melancholy and serene nostalgia, a dreamscape of memories and torn love letters I dare say, almost 4 years later Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper seems to bring back a vibe much closer to the radiance of Person Pitch or even some early AC’s work.
Nevertheless, there’s also a quality to this album that invites an inward journey. Just before the majestic close, we’re given what seems to summarise the feel of the album from the very first beat: the beautiful tale of the ‘Selfish Gene’; one about tripping up again and again to then get up again and again, making songs that really are just noise, shifts in the unconscious and fates filled with so much magic.
Saying you look forward to dying could be the most outrageous antithesis of an enthusiastic wish, but in fact that’s what it most definitely is and there is no outlandish strangeness in embracing the unknown with the soul of a curious wanderer.
We love you, Grim Reaper.